Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Benford

Taylor Benford is our second Alumni Spotlight for November 2018! She works as a Senior Consulting Analyst at Accenture  and is a graduate of Howard University (2016) and of Whitefield Academy (2012). Taylor says that participating in 21st Century Leaders gave her a strong foundation for becoming a transformative leader throughout her college years and as a young professional.  For her, it’s never too early to start giving back!  Read on…

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now

I’m currently a Senior Consulting Analyst at Accenture where I’m in the Consulting Development Program. Specializing in Finance Analytics, my project experience ranges with clients in a variety of industries from Public Service to Communications.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

Participating in 21st Century Leaders armed me with the foundations of becoming a transformative leader in collegiate and professional settings. I am deeply grateful for the guidance that I received – from understanding the importance of advocating for myself and others to learning appropriate business casual attire. This guidance led me to joining a professional business fraternity, obtaining multiple internships, and entering my senior year of college with an accepted job offer. As a young professional, my leadership skills have carried me where inexperience may have created adversity.

How did 21CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of professionalism, etc. What skills/tools/perspectives have helped you along the way?

21CL provided me with the confidence and reassurance that I needed to pursue leadership opportunities when I started college. During my freshman year at Howard University, I was elected as Treasurer of the School of Business Freshman Council and was admitted into the Freshman Leadership Academy. I can definitely trace the refinement of my soft skills, such as public speaking and effective networking, back to my 21CL roots.

Which programs did you participate in, and when? What skills did you gain or improve through those programs?

I participated in Leadership Plugged-In (now TVYMI) in 2011, during the summer before my senior year of high school. Learning how to work collaboratively, speak with poise regardless of audience, and understanding the influence of technology on business at Leadership Plugged-In has been a catalyst in my success. Also, having the opportunity to present to Turner executives in high school has definitely made it easier for me to present to C-suite client executives at work today.

What was a memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

The most memorable moment for me was meeting so many amazing people from across Georgia. The entire week of Leadership Plugged-In we encouraged each other, worked tirelessly to complete our presentations, and built lasting connections. I recall being in awe of how ambitious and passionate everyone was. Iron sharpens iron and I returned to school that fall with a renewed spark. I still keep in contact with many people from that summer and truly value that experience.

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? If so, how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

I believe that one of my key strengths is my ability to create genuine connections with people from all backgrounds and levels. During Leadership Plugged-In, we had to seek feedback from Turner executives as well as our counselors to produce a successful business case presentation. I strive to be a 360-degree leader who successfully leads themselves, leads upwards, leads across peers, and leads downwards. Staying in contact with 21CL over the last 7 years has afforded me many opportunities to volunteer. No matter where you are in your career, it’s never too soon to start giving back!